Charming of the Plow/Disting
Today, in correspondence with the Celtic Imbolc, is a celebration and honoring of the coming spring. The harshness of Winter is starting to come to an end for our ancestors, although food is scarce, and life is difficult at this time, it is always important to be looking ahead, and making it through to the more fertile times of Spring.
On this day, in Asatru many heathens will honor the beings of fertility and spring, such as Frey, Nerthus, Jord, the Goddess Ostara, the Ancestors and vaettir of the land, the wights. To Frigg and Freya, many of the divine are honored at this time, for there is much to give thanks for, and be mindful of. We give thanks and honor to these beings of life and fertility, we thank them for the gifts that they give us, and we ask them to continue to do so.
It is however, important to remember that we are still in Winter, and the dark tendrils of the cold are still tight on the land. Some darker aspects of the divine are also appropriately honored, such as Odin, with his many aspects, giving Odin thanks is never a bad thing.
Charming of the Plow is a time of fertility, thanks, and hope for the coming spring. It is a time to give thanks to the land for keeping us during the winter, the earth, the divine, and the spirits for the fertility that is to come in the spring. Charming of the Plow is an important holiday.
“In Sweden at this time, a religious festival was held called the Disablot, to honor the disir – female gods, landspririts, and ancestors. Included in this observance was the governing assembly called the Thing, where laws were made and interpreted, grievances were adjudicated, contracts sealed, and so on. The combined gathering was called Disting, and marked the start of the growing season in that part of the world.
A Scandinavian legend describes early ‘land-taking’ customs in the story of the goddess Gefjon. Like many ancient tales, there are conflicting versions from various sources, but the jist is that a Swedish king promised Gefjon as much land as she could plough in a day with four oxen. She transformed her four sons (fathered by an unnamed jotunn) into supernaturally strong oxen, and: Gefjun‘s plough “cut so hard and deep that it uprooted the land, and the oxen drew the land out into the sea to the west and halted in a certain sound.” Gefjun there placed the land, and bestowed upon it the name Zealand. Where the land had been taken from a lake stands.
There has been an association of women and ploughing since time immemorial. Folk traditions in some areas of Russia (where the Vikings settled as Rus) call for women to plough the borders of a community to ward off sickness or calamity. Anglo-Saxons held the Æcerbot or ‘field remedy’ ritual, to heal land that was yielding poorly and return it to full productivity. The ritual called for anointing the plow with herbs and oils, for cakes to be placed in the fresh furrows, and for daylong incantations and songs.
Erce, Erce, Erce, Earthen Mother!
May the Allwielder grant thee, the great Drihten,
acres waxing and covering,
increasing and strengthening.
A sheaf betokens the reaper’s produce
and the broad barley’s produce
and the white wheat’s produce
and the produce of all earth.
Grant to them, great Drihten
whose hallows that in heaven are,
that his farm be fortified against all fiends, each one,
and it be bordered against all
baleful things, each one,
that through the land is seen.
Now I ask the Wielder, that this world shaped,
That there be no such cunning woman; no such crafty man,
That with a word of power changes what is said.
While thumbing through all those seed catalogs, take a moment to think about the earth that grows our food, and how best to care for it. At Seven Trees Farm, we add to the health of our land by adding back manure, lime, composted livestock bedding, etc. We also use as few chemicals and toxins as possible, not just for our own health, but to keep the natural bug-filled ecosystem thriving.
Another way we show respect for our bountiful Earth is by leaving some areas ‘un-plowed’, so that our own landvaettir have an undisturbed place to inhabit. The wild birds also appreciate the thickets and brambles, as do the myriad frogs which will start their spring peeping soon.”-
How do you celebrate? Let us know!
However you do, have a great Charming of the Plow!